A fisheries compliance patrol on Northland's West Coast has yielded disappointing results with non-compliance noted for almost 100% of inspections.
Earlier this month, a combined team of North Shore and Northland fisheries officers converged on Kawerua and Tauroa - an area well known for high levels of offending.
Team manager fisheries compliance for the Upper North Island, Steve Rudsdale, says the objective was to conduct inspections to assess compliance with fishing rules.
"The most disappointing aspect of the patrol was that of the 30 or so people we came across, almost all were not complying with the rules," says Mr Rudsdale.
"This area is a well-known spot for high levels of offending and offenders are often experienced poachers. More often than not, they are also street-wise and uncooperative."
Mr Rudsdale says a local man was found in possession of 63 pāua, only 5 of which were of legal size. Another local was found with 49 pāua, of which only 2 were of legal size. The pāua, this man's diving gear and a quad bike were seized on the spot.
Many others spoken to during the patrol will receive warnings and/or fines ranging from $250 to $500.
"MPI is serious about ensuring that people who break the rules face the appropriate penalties. We will not tolerate any level of offending," says Mr Rudsdale.
"Precious fisheries resources like pāua, need to be safeguarded to ensure their sustainability as a species as well as for future generations."
In the past week, a number of Northland people appeared before the courts on fisheries offences. Dwayne Rawiri was sentenced to 5 months home detention and 200 hours community work for gathering and selling pāua. Kārena Tetai was ordered to complete 100 hours community work and banned from fishing for 3 years for obstructing a fisheries officer. Shane Wikaira was ordered to complete 350 hours of community work for possessing excess and undersized pāua. All 3 men are regulars at Kawerua and well-known to fisheries officers.